TRAFFIC campaigners are celebrating after a company announced that half of it staff are moving away from its premises in a residential area.

Business services company Capita has announced that 250 of its staff are moving from its offices at Mowden Hall, in Staindrop Road, Darlington, to premises at Lingfield Point in the town.

The move is part of long-term plans by the company to expand its business, after a contract to deal with teachers' pensions was renewed for seven years in a multi-million pound agreement.

Staff dealing with pensions will now work from one office, and those dealing with other contracts will be based in another office.

Capita hopes that the extra space will allow the company to expand and take on more staff.

The news has been welcomed by people living in the Mowden area, who have been campaigning for an end to traffic problems in their streets partly caused by staff from Capita.

Fears were expressed that someone could be killed or seriously injured on the estate because residents had to dodge parked cars to get to their homes.

Speaking yesterday, ward councillor Bill Stenson said local people would be delighted that hundreds of staff from Mowden Hall would be moving on.

He said: "250 staff leaving is a better development than nothing. I am really pleased that half the staff are leaving the area and moving to more suitable business premises.

"There is a car park at Mowden Hall, but it is always full, so staff park on the streets and even in the pub car park.

"We have had lines put outside people's drives, but it has not really helped. We tried to get people to car-share and put on extra buses from the town, but with flexible working hours it never worked because the staff were coming and going at all hours. The houses around here have driveways but residents were concerned that their visitors had no where to park."

Coun Stenson had planned to call a public meeting later in the year to discuss the problem.

He said: "My only concern is that the company will expand and put more staff in Mowden Hall, rather than in their new premises. That would mean we were back to square one but for the time being we are very happy."